Antimatter trapped with Swedish participation. Iraq said to have access to Swedish weapons. Acute shortage of Swedish potatoes. Not enough toothpaste.
Antimatter trapped with Swedish participation
The international collaboration ALPHA has for the first time trapped atoms of antimatter. This mysterious mirror image of ordinary matter will now be studied in order to understand why our world is made up of only ordinary matter.
Svante Jonsell, Swedish physicist at Stockholm University, and his colleagues, published their new results in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature. “Anti-atoms can help us to understand one of the really big mysteries of our universe,” says Jonsell, a member of ALPHA, at the Department of Physics, Stockholm University.
This is a milestone for antimatter studies, but a lot of work remains.
Ordinary matter is built up from atoms and molecules, which in turn are made of smaller particles. For every particle there is also a mirror image, an antiparticle. “As far as we know, there is no difference between antimatter and ordinary matter, except that they have opposite electric charges. Still, there is one very obvious difference: Everything around us is made of ordinary matter,” Jonsell says. “We still don’t know why this is the case. Maybe the mirror image isn’t completely perfect?”
In order to contain the anti-atoms the scientists use an atom trap, where anti-atoms in a vacuum are held in place by magnetic forces. Due to the difficulties, only small numbers of anti-atoms have been trapped so far, so the experiment has to be made more effective. Antimatter cannot be stored in containers of the usual kind, since antiparticles are annihilated as soon as they come in contact with ordinary matter. In previous experiments the anti-atoms were destroyed almost immediately, so it has not been possible to study their properties.
Iraq said to have access to Swedish weapons
Iraqi soldiers allegedly use the Swedish-made anti-tank weapon AT4. The weapons are said to have been handed over by U.S. forces, in violation of the export agreement between Sweden and the United States. Anders Ekman Drus at the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP), the agency responsible for export controls, says that he will raise the issue with the Americans. Social Democratic MP Urban Ahlin, Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, requires that the ISP is called for the committee to explain what happened.
Acute shortage of Swedish potatoes
Swedes consume about 3.5 kilos (7.7 pounds) of potatoes per person per month, but there’s a shortage of Swedish potatoes. This year’s harvest was thought to last until April of next year, but farmers warn it may be over way ahead of time. Too low a price in the stores may have lead to the approaching crisis. Potato growers get a better deal when exporting the Swedish high-quality spuds. “We have a market economy, and right now Russia, among others, are screaming for potatoes,” says Lars-Göran Pettersson, chairman of Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund (LRF, Federation of Swedish Farmers). The severe drought of last summer meant that Russia lost close to a third of their potato harvest. But also the Swedish harvest has been decreasing for the last few years. According to LRF, the small harvests are due to the potato harvesters' poor salaries. The Swedish potato farmer makes about 2 SEK per kilo of potato (29 cents per 2.2 pounds). That's about 20 percent more than last year, but Lars-Göran Pettersson suggests a doubled rate would be more reasonable. The price of potatoes on the European export market is double that of last year. “The result is that we first export cheap potatoes, and then, come spring we’ll have to import expensive potatoes,” he adds.
Not enough toothpaste
Swedes use too little toothpaste when they brush their teeth, shows a new study that was presented at a recent dentist assembly in Göteborg. Swedish scientists recommend using 1.5 to 2 centimeters of toothpaste (0.5 to 0.7 inch) on the brush, but Swedes on average tend to put merely 1 centimeter on the brush (0.3 inch). Swedish scientists also say not to rinse after brushing teeth, a fact few are aware of.